Waitomo Deed of Settlement
|11 March 1996
|Deed of Settlement (New Zealand)
|Aotearoa - New Zealand
| | Compensation | Cultural Heritage | Economic Development | Land Management | Land Use | Management / Administration | Recognition of Native Title or Traditional Ownership | Recognition of Traditional Rights and Interests | Tourism
|Josephine Huti Anderson brought a claim before the Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of the Ruapuha and Uekaha hapu related to the Waitomo caves. This is the final agreement between the Crown and the claimants in settlement of the matter. It provides, amongst other things, for the Waitomo Domain to be vested in the 'claimants as a Maori Reservation for the use and benefit of all New Zealanders'.
A Deed of Settlement is reached once a claim has been registered with the Waitangi Tribunal and has completed the settlement process of negotiation, ratification and execution, and in most circumstances, is accompanied by a statute implementing the settlement. For more detailed information, see 'Deed of Settlement' below.
The Waitomo Caves were first explored by the Maori Chief Taane Tinorou and British surveyor Fred Mace in 1887. In 1903 the Crown acquired the caves with the intention of ensuring their preservation. The caves became a very profitable tourist enterprise for the government. The claimants in this settlement are the two families descended from Taane Tinorou, represented by the Ruapuha-Uekaha Hapu Trust (Doorne).
The agreement provides for three acres of the cave area to be vested in the claimants with one acre to remain vested in the Crown. The management of the caves is to be shared between the claimants and the Department of Conservation, who are to work cooperatively to preserve the ecological and Maori interests in the area. The caves are to be open to the public. The agreement specifies how the costs of the management of the caves are to be shared, and how the profits from a licence issued to a commercial enterprise to guide tourists and run a souvenir shop are to be divided. Moreover, the Crown is to loan $1 million to the claimants to be repaid over approximately 32 years. Repayment instalments are to come from the licence fees.
The land where the museum is situated is to be revested in the claimants, subject to its being leased back to the Crown. The agreement notes that the land on which the school is situated is still required for public works purposes but that if it ceases being used for those purposes it will be offered back to the claimants. Similarly, if the tavern ceases to operate, the claimants should have a first option to purchase it at market rates.